Last week, the popular consumer-oriented blog The Consumerist broke a story involving a minor dust-up between electronics retailer Circuit City and MAD Magazine, a publication that’s been lampooning public officials and institutions since the days of black-and-white televisions and rabbit-ear antennae. MAD’s most recent issue featured a four-page spoof ad for a company called “Sucker City,” with a rather familiar-looking red and white logo. Among other things, the ad satirized the scarcity of Wii gaming consoles, the company’s rivalry with Best Buy and the prices on high-end plasma TVs (“Don’t save anything! $4299.99,” it teased).
A less-than-tickled corporate executive fired back, ordering Circuit City stores to destroy all copies of MAD in their possession (evidently, magazines are sold at 40 locations). What would have otherwise been confined to the pages of a humor magazine was now a national story. Only with an added twist: Circuit City can’t take a joke.
“I can’t imagine that anybody could think they could do that and not get coverage,” says Shel Holtz, principal of Holtz Communication + Technology.